On today’s podcast, host Lori Boll speaks with two passionate professionals, Beth Stark, a Universal Design for Learning and Inclusionary Practices Strategist  and Jeremie Rostan, a High School Curriculum and Instruction Coordinator at the International School of Panama who worked together to create LUDIA which was created as a new kind of entry point and scaffold for developing a Universal Design for Learning mindset, intentionally designing to reduce learning barriers, and discovering the power of Artificial Intelligence. 

We learn about their motivation & goal behind creating LUDIA, get introduced to the Four T’s Process, and learn what exactly educators can expect when they connect to LUDIA. 

Resources from today’s show:


Beth lives in Germany and partners with international schools as a consultant specialising in UDL implementation, building learner-centered systems of support, accessible technology integration, shifting mindsets, and igniting inclusive inquiry for all
learners. Her passion for reducing barriers through Universal Design for Learning began in her early years as a teacher of students who are Blind and Visually Impaired. Beth has sixteen years of IB international school experience and holds a Master’s Degree in Special Education. Beth serves as the Co-Chairperson of the UDL-IRN Implementation Special Interest
Group, is an ISTE certified educator, and a CPACC certified member of the International Association of Accessibility Professionals.

For the past 15 years, Jérémie has helped international schools combine academic rigor and student experience through the development of transformative programs. A prolific author, his holistic and innovative approach is regularly featured in leading publications, as well as on his website, where he creates resources for school leaders and educators. Jérémie recently wrote “AI-Powered UDL Strategies”, and is the High School Curriculum and Instruction Coordinator at International School of


Transcribed by Kanako Suwa (she/her)

[Intro music]

Welcome to the SENIA Happy Hour podcast with your host, Lori Boll. We know you’re busy, so we bring you one hour’s worth of content in under 30 minutes, leaving you time for a true happy hour. 

Lori: Hello, everyone. So today I was lucky enough to speak with two passionate professionals, Beth Stark, a Universal Design for Learning and inclusionary practices strategist, and Jérémie Rosten, a high school curriculum and instruction coordinator at the International School of Panama, who worked together to create LUDIA, which was created as a new kind of entry point and scaffold for developing a universal design for learning mindset, intentionally designing to reduce learning barriers and discovering the power of artificial intelligence. 

Today, we learn about their motivation and goal behind creating LUDIA. We get introduced to the 4Ts process and learn what exactly educators can expect when they connect to LUDIA. It’s exciting stuff and I can’t wait for you to hear it. So now, on to the show. Hello Beth and Jérémie and welcome to the podcast. 

Beth: Thank you so much for having us, Lori. It’s great to be here. 

Lori: Well, today we’re here to talk about Universal Design for Learning and a very special project you created, LUDIA. So tell me what motivated the creation of LUDIA and what is its goal? 

Beth: Well, I’m going to go ahead and start off by saying that UDL is one of the oldest acronyms in the world of inclusive education, but it might be new to some of your listeners. And so Universal Design for Learning is based on the belief that all learners can learn and that all educators have the very best of intentions and we all want every learner to grow and develop as someone who is resourceful and purposeful and motivated and knowledgeable and strategic and goal directed. So all of those descriptors sound great, but when it comes to creating the conditions for supporting learners to become expert learners, a systemized approach and scaffolding is needed for us to design well and intentionally. And that’s where the UDL framework comes into play. 

And so I’m really passionate about Universal Design for Learning. And so Jérémie and I paired up in the beginning to try to leverage the power of AI to create bridges for educators so that they could really connect more on the daily with universal design for learning as they were planning their lessons and engagements. So that’s the short story. 

Jérémie: And LUDIA was very much at the intersection between UDL and AI, hence the name LUDIA, which is a sort of concatenation of the two. The basic idea was to reduce barriers to implementing UDL and to accessing and leveraging the potential of AI, making it more easily accessible to the widest possible audience. 

Lori: Great. It sounds really exciting. So is it a website? Is it an app? What is it? How do we access it? 

Beth: The simple answer is that LUDIA is a chatbot. It’s free. It’s accessible to everyone. And you can use either voice typing or your keyboard to access it on your personal device or through a browser on your laptop or computer. And beyond just being a simple chatbot, we have really gone in and engineered LUDIA to be much more of a thought partner for teachers so that they don’t need to worry too much about perfect prompting when they’re like they do with ChatGPT and instead we just encourage them to start by engaging with LUDIA and telling LUDIA about their learners the goals and the challenges that they’re facing.

Jérémie: it is very much conversational so you really it’s you are chatting with the bot you don’t use any kind of technical language and it also provides options for follow -up so as you ask a question it gives you answers and it says okay here might be some follow -up questions you might have for me so it’s scaffolding structures that conversation. 

Lori: Wow, that sounds really interesting. So before we dive in more to how teachers can really use your LUDIA, tell me about this four Ts. What is the four Ts process? 

Beth:Well, I started off by talking about the simple first T, which is tell. And Jérémie, I’ll let you take it from there. 

Jérémie: Well, you simply start by telling LUDIA what’s on your mind, what concern you have, or what students need, what needs your students have. And then you tinker, meaning you play around and just chat with Ludea as you would have a conversation with a knowledgeable colleague or UDL expert. Then you tweak. Tweak meaning you are not simply going to take whatever LUDIA gives you and go ahead and implement in your classroom. You’re going to adapt to your context, but do make it your own thing. So you tell, you tinker, you tweak, and finally you transfer. Transfer meaning that you scale either in your own practice or by sharing with colleagues or by developing sort of routine and strategies for yourself that you can use over and over again in your classroom. 

Lori: And all of this is free. 

Beth: Oh yeah. 

Jérémie: And it will always be free. 

Lori: That’s wonderful. Yeah, that’s great teachers always appreciate free. 

Beth: Thanks for bringing that up and this is very much a passion project, and we as international educators really wanted to reduce barriers to universal design for learning for all educators and instructional designers everywhere. And that’s our goal, and it will remain our goal. And we hope that in using LUDIA, people will also start to think a little bit more differently, perhaps about the idea and the mindset that barriers to learning are not within the learner. They’re within the design of the learning. And so that’s the mindset that we’re really trying to foster through engaging with LUDIA. 

Lori: Mm -hmm. I love that. Yeah. Please. 

Jérémie: It is a very safe conversation for teachers. So it helps to have this mindset of, as Beth said, the need or the deficit is not in the learner, but it’s not in the teacher either. It’s just a misalignment. Something is not aligned between the way we have designed instruction and the needs of the students. We’re simply going to diagnose where is the gap, where’s the misalignment, and realign. Nobody’s at fault here. We’re just looking for harmony. 

Lori: And so who is in charge of the tech part of this? 

Beth: As collaborators, we really see this as, yeah, a shared effort. So even within the engineering aspects of LUDIA, we were working together through consultation because LUDIA is only as good as the guidance LUDIA offers. So you know, when it comes to making sure that the information that is generated is going to support teachers on their UDL journey, that had to be an ongoing conversation between us. 

Lori: You mentioned earlier about ChatGPT and probably Bard or ClaudeAI, all of them. What makes LUDIA different than engaging with one of these? 

Jérémie: Essentially, what makes it different is what you would call a mega prompt. So what that does is, as Beth said, instead of having every teacher need to learn prompt engineering and go through a very complex process of finding just the right way to ask all those questions to ChatGPT, you have a tool that has been shaped to harness the potential of ChatGPT for instance, although it does not actually run on ChatGPT, but something like ChatGPT, but shaped in a way where it is meant for educators and not just educators, but educators that are looking for UDL for your thought partner and for your deal solutions. So it is a much more specific and expert use than and therefore output than you would get from a very general chat about your chatGPT. 

Lori: Right, and I know that chat GPT, if it doesn’t know the answer, it’ll make one up. Whereas it sounds like yours is, it’s all work that you’ve put into it to create the conversation. 

Beth: Well, I do want to add two points here, and that is that the UDL framework is based on over 1100 research studies, which provide the core foundation of those actions that we can take as educators to reduce barriers. And that’s just the first layer of research. So, what you’re receiving is well -informed guidance and instruction that isn’t coming from Jérémie or myself, we’re just directing that connection through the megaprompt. 

Jérémie: I was going to say, we also see, as you said, LUDIA is very much of a passion project and it’s an ongoing project. So, we’re also already looking at what will the next iteration look like and how can we go deeper into technical aspects and the fine -tuning of a large -language model specifically for this purpose. So, that would be the next step. 

Lori: When somebody goes into LUDIA, what can they first expect? What would they see when they first hop in? 

Beth: Well, depending on if they’re using their Pro account via their browser or they’re handy, which they can access through a free app. They’re going to see a homepage that isn’t very neat and tidy. So we do want to say that we’re using a platform that is free. And as Jérémie mentioned, this is really very much LUDIA 1.0. So you’re going to see over to the right a description and some resources and links to resources that you can access to, for example, look further into the four T’s and learn a little bit more about LUDIA and the origins and also read some resources and some articles that have been very generously put out into the world since LUDIA came on the scene in August. 

And then over to the left, you will see kind of a doc of all of your history. So every chat that you have, of course, then is, I would say, saved. So in your profile. And one of the things that LUDIA does is really encourages educators and instructional designers to try something out. And then if it doesn’t work to come back, or even if it does work to come back and perhaps progress onto the next step, when it comes to identifying and reducing barriers or to try another strategy or checkpoint that may be much more effective for learners. 

So that’s the basic layout. And at the very bottom is where you can choose to either type or use voice typing to respond to the very simple prompt that you’ll see. And that is a hello from LUDIA and then asking the users to share a little bit about their context, about their learners, about the challenges that they’re facing. 

Lori: Okay, thanks for that background. Now, can you walk me through what it might be like for a teacher to engage with LUDIA? 

Beth: Yeah, I always encourage teachers to think about you know, those questions or wonderings that they have where they might turn to a mentor teacher or someone that they know, you know, amongst the staff that knows a lot about UDL or, you know, if they just imagine if they had someone with, you know, a lot of expertise in their midst, what kind of questions would they want to start the conversation with? So an example might be, you know, I have a class with several multilingual learners, many of whom are just at the first stage, first phase of learning English. I very much want to reduce barriers to representation. So you might say, I want to make sure they understand the key concepts and the terms in our upcoming unit. So how can I make that happen? Just a very conversational question. And what teachers can also do is attach the unit planner to the conversation. So that gives LUDIA the ability to give very specific, relevant, contextual feedback and guidance for the teacher. And some examples of what you can expect to receive back would be a scaffolded list of guidance about how to support the learners with understanding each key concepts or term. 

LUDIA will also give guidance about flexible grouping, how to do some authentic learning tasks perhaps that are going to give all of the learners equal access and opportunities to also be social and collaborative in their learning. So the number one response that we receive from teachers is, wow, I started a conversation with LUDIA and LUDIA helped me to identify barriers I hadn’t even thought about and gave me guidance and support about how to reduce them. 

So I would say, keep your expectations high and keep the conversation going. And don’t forget that you can always take advantage of that little paper clip over to the right and attach anything, a rubric, a unit planner, you know, a written assessment and just also ask LUDIA, how can I reduce barriers for all learners? 

Jérémie: There is a recent one that was a good one where a teacher asked about the Israel -Palestine conflict or situation and the teacher did not share the background of the student, which wasn’t on his mind at the time. So LUDIA asked, I probably need to know, is there something sensitive there? And once the teacher shared that, LUDIA insisted on the importance of choosing appropriate vocabulary and choosing different terms for the same situation and looking at different perspectives and different options for vocabulary to make the presentation of the content appropriate. So that comes from the prompt, that comes from the way we have designed LUDIA, that it’s going to sort of proactively ask those questions, for instance, about cultural background and appropriateness, and always be mindful of that. 

Lori: That’s incredible. You know, I always when in my role or my past role as educator, learning support teacher, I’m always thinking in the context or from the lens of supporting learners with disabilities or such, but I hadn’t thought of it in other contexts like you just mentioned with different sensitivities to religions or culture or any of that. So it’s really impressive that that’s all built right in. 

Beth: Well, we want to add that it’s about creating connections. So it’s not necessarily that we have kind of behind the curtain, we have all of the perfect answers. And we’ve engineered LUDIA to connect with our big brains. Instead, we’ve created that mega prompt to ensure that those responses are culturally responsive. We’re prioritizing the checkpoints of minimizing threats, for example, and optimizing choice and autonomy. Certainly, the the user, the educator or instructional designer, will be pleasantly surprised about how LUDIA prioritizes. So just as the UDL framework is scaffolded as a professional tool for us, so the first row being access, the second being build and the third being internalize, you’re going to also receive responses that are always going to prioritize the importance of access. And so, for example, if a learner in a classroom is feeling intimidated and threatened, it’s very difficult for them to move forward and dig deeper into the content that’s being delivered. So that’s one of the ways that LUDIA implicitly guides people to develop that UDL mindset. And we know that, you know, if we think about mentors or wise educators that we’ve worked side by side with in the past, you know, that’s the kind of guidance that we’re looking for. 

We’re not looking for solutions. We’re looking to learn. And that’s what that’s the experience that LUDIA will offer. And there really is no catch. There is no paywall. There is no cost. We really want it to be as accessible as possible to as many people as possible. And one of the other things that Jérémie and I did was we created a set of guidebooks for people. So you might have people who don’t know what UDL is, and they just want to start asking questions. LUDIA is also a source of professional learning about universal design for learning. So you might want to start there, or you might want to dig into a little bit more about expert learning and how to really reduce barriers in your particular units. Or you might actually really just want to learn more as far as, OK, tell me a little bit more about these checkpoints in relation to this goal that I have in my upcoming lesson tomorrow. It’s 10 o ‘clock at night, so what do I need to prioritize? And LUDIA, I can help you. 

Jérémie: And two quick things that I wanted to add, one is in terms of the user, so the user is an educator, a learner themselves, there might be a teacher, there might be someone who provides PD to adults, someone who design workshops and wants to implement UDL. It’s also very relevant to adult learning, but it’s not necessarily only for children. The second thing is, you asked about the difference with a very general tool like ChaiGPT, in the prompt, the sort of meta prompt that runs LUDIA, we also baked in what we call negative demands, so things that we do not want to talk about. 

So, because ChatGPT has essentially ingested all over the internet, and it’s more complex than that, but essentially, it also repeats what it has read the most. So, if there are myths out there, it’s going to spew out those myths. So, when you ask ChatGPT to design a lesson, oftentimes, you will use things like learning styles, because it’s everywhere. We made it very clear to LUDIA that she should not mention or provide any kind of recommendations that revolve around learning styles. 

Lori: Brilliant. I’m really excited about this. I can’t wait to shout it out to the world and for everyone to learn more about it. I know you two are exceptional educators, and we are so lucky to have you designing a course about UDL for us, for our Level 2 certification program. So thank you for that. 

Beth: I was so excited and honored when I got that request. So it’s another passion project. You know, UDL can really feel intimidating and confusing to people like all of us who have the best of intentions. We want to support all learners. And so figuring out ways to connect with more people and to demystify it and reduce the barriers to their professional learning is a lot of fun. 

Lori: Awesome. Well, thank you for your time today and I can’t, I’m just going to dive right into LUDIA right now, as soon as we get off this podcast.

Jérémie: Let us know what you think. 

Beth: Yeah, let us know what you think. Yeah, we’re excited to hear that. Thank you again for having us. Thank you. 

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Thank you for joining us for today’s show. For more information, including how to subscribe please head to our website. That’s seniainternational.org/podcasts. Until next time, cheers.